When Lissa Lucas stood up at a public meeting of the West Virginia legislature and read into the record the gas-industry campaign contributions that lawmakers had received prior to taking a favorable view on allowing gas-drillers to drill in West Virginians’ property, she was dragged out of the chamber.
Lucas is running for a seat in the West Virginia legislature; prior to being dragged away from the mic, she had raised a mere $4,000. Now she’s raised $42,987, which is more than anyone has ever raised in a West Virginia race — more, in fact, than all the candidates for her seat combined raised during the last election.
Lucas favors instituting public campaign finance rules that would make such private fundraising much less significant during election campaigns.
The significance of this amount can’t be overstated. The website Ballotpedia tracks the total campaign contributions in District 7 every campaign cycle going back to 2000. Lucas’s sum raised so far is more than twice of the $17,498 raised by all three candidates in 2016. It is larger than the total funds raised any cycle in the district in the 21st century. (The second-highest fundraising was $23,994, raised by four candidates in 2006). The current amount raised by the current incumbent, Republican Jason Harshburger, is not yet publicly available, but he raised just $9,300 in 2016.
Lucas is doing all of this without attending the high-dollar fossil fuel fundraisers she has criticized many in the legislature for patronizing — including Harshburger. In December, he was hosted at a fundraising event by a phalanx of fossil fuel lobbyists brought together by the West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association.
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